Cold winds and low humidity can wreak havoc on our skin as the weather cools. There are many products to bring moisture back, but nourishing skin starts from the inside. Add these essential ingredients to your diet and enjoy more radiant skin.
Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant necessary for collagen and keratin production – a type of protein responsible for skin strength and smooth, plump appearance (not quite the same as what you find in fancy skin creams. Be sure to include lots of sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy greens, pumpkin, capsicum, mangoes and broccoli in your diet.
Vitamin D is best known for its role in bone health and calcium absorption, however is also important for photoprotection (minimising skin damage due to UV exposure) and is involved in fast wound healing. Although vitamin D is primarily synthesised in skin that is exposed to UV light (approx. 90%), it’s also found in small amounts in some foods including cod liver oil, fish, mushrooms, tofu, dairy and eggs.
Vitamin E. Another antioxidant that supports healthy skin growth and neutralises free radicals – skin-wrecking molecules that can cause skin dryness, fine lines and wrinkles. Best sources include tofu, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, shellfish, fish and extra virgin olive oil
Don’t be afraid of fat. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the ones found in nuts, avocado, seeds and olive oil, act as a natural moisturiser to ensure your skin cells stay buoyant and plump. These fats also help to prevent acne and reduce the appearance of cellulite!
Omega-3 fats are ‘essential’ fats which means they cannot be made in the body so you must get them in your diet. Omega-3 fats encourage the body to produce anti-inflammatory molecules, which can help inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psorasis. Think oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) and plant sources such as flaxseed, walnuts or chia seeds.
Zinc is a mineral that is often overlooked, but plays an important role in promoting on-going cell renewal, preventing cell damage and promoting wound healing. It also protects against UV radiation and is actually included in many sunscreens. Get the zinc you need by eating protein-rich foods (fish, red meat and poultry), sunflower seeds, oysters and wholegrains (quinoa , rye, barley, buckwheat).
Fermented foods are naturally high in probiotics (good bacteria that lives in your gut). An imbalance of good vs bad bacteria in the gut can manifest as skin conditions such as acne, redness and dry patches. Aim to include one of these probiotic-rich foods daily: natural yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, miso and kefir.
Carbs are your friend. Not all carbs are created equal. Avoid high GI carbs like sweets, white bread, pastries, biscuits and sugary drinks, as they spike insulin levels, which may damage collagen and accelerate wrinkles. Opt for low GI carbs which don’t raise the blood sugar levels too high and keep hunger at bay – meaning less cravings.
Drink up. When it comes to a glowing complexion, there is no escaping optimal hydration. Whilst there are no set guidelines for how much you should drink (because everyone is different), a good sign of hydration is pale colour urine.